Virtue Drinks Review

So how are we all doing? Staying at home and keeping safe I hope. If I’m honest I’m finding the current Coronavirus lockdown physically and mentally challenging, I’m missing my family and friends, I’m missing my patients and a lot of the normality that goes with everyday life that we take for granted. Hang in there troops the good days will return.

Now I document fairly often about my awful sleep patterns. I’ve been an insomniac for years and some weeks are worse than others. I find myself often turning to caffeine to help with that afternoon slump. I tend to avoid the high sugar energy drinks…. because of the sugar content, and usually opt for a beanies flavoured coffee or similar. The lovely people over at Virtue Drinks offered to send me some new drinks to try that were high if caffeine but zero sugar. So here they are, and here are my thoughts.

Virtue describes the drinks as :
“Yerba mate is a magical energising ingredient from South America. It’s the traditional uplifting drink of choice in many countries in the region; the yerba mate drinking ritual represents unity as it brings people together. Yerba mate is an antioxidant powerhouse, with essential vitamins & minerals and amino acids. Yerba mate is naturally high in caffeine, one can = one cup of coffee (80mg natural caffeine).”

Brilliant I thought… and try it I have. There are 2 flavours Peach and Strawberry & Lime. Both have very subtle flavours- I like this as they are definitely not sweet and overpowering. Both flavours are pleasant although peach probably takes my favourite crown. They remind me a bit like Purdys just without the sugar and calories. The big bonus is that if any of you are following either weight watchers or SlimmingWorld etc then these drinks are acceptable on both diets.

The caffeine hit worked as well, perking me no end. This is another bonus for those of you who don’t actually like coffee. ( if these people exist?)

So would I recommend these drinks? Yes I would, delicate flavour, caffeine hit and zero calories. Really what’s not to like?

Have you tried these drinks yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Note- I was sent these products to try, but all thoughts and opinions are my own and truthful.

Review- The Box Bakery

Having survived all 732 days of January, we are now in the midst of days on end of soggy, breezy weather ( Thank you Ciara for the tree that came down) . It’s cold, wet and a bit dismal- so what better excuse did I need to stay in the warm and do some baking.

Now I’m ok at baking, apart from bread. Even before my Coeliac diagnosis bread was never my strong point ( one loaf even the birds refused to eat). It has always been my nemesis, and I’m determined to sort this issue out. The lovely people over at The Box Bakery got in contact with me and sent some products to try. I was very optimistic…. surely this is one loaf that I couldn’t mess up?

Anyway this clever product it called so because you bake the bread ( or cake) in the box the mix is packaged in. No mess either, this is surely a good thing.

You peel back the top cover, that says “Lift here” to reveal a stopper. Remove this and pour water in to the box, add the stopper and give it all a good shake. Next remove the top layer completely and give everything a good mix with a fork, this will stop any dry bits of bread mix which will alter the appearance and texture of your loaf. Brush oil over the surface of the bread mixture and place it in the oven. ( follow the instructions on the pack).

Fast forward a couple of hours for cooking and cooling and look what I baked. It’s crusty, and smells divine and cuts like a dream.

It was no good, I had to try it. It doesn’t disappoint. Unlike some gluten free breads, this loaf doesn’t have a dense cardboard like texture, and unlike my usual attempts, this loaf is very much edible. I like the seeds it gives a lovely taste and slight crunch to the loaf. It also lends itself well to both toast and as a sandwich etc.

I can honestly say I’m so impressed with this bread. It’s the first time I’ve successfully accomplished and edible loaf or bread. With these results it won’t be the last loaf either.

I was sent these products as a gift to review, however all opinions are my own and honest.

Cheesies Review and Giveaway

Hooray, it’s Friday, the weekend is here. We’ve made it. This week has been a shocker weather wise hasn’t it? The chickens have needed snorkels, my hair has been permanently frizzy and it’s been cold. There was only one thing for it- I made soup to warm up ( spicy butternut squash if you’re wondering).

But what are those crouton things on top? They are the new kids on the block- Cheesies . These are in fact popped cubes of cheese that are great on their own but work brilliantly with a soup or salad.

They come in 3 flavours ( at the moment). Cheddar, Emmental and Gauda. The cheddar is strong, with a great tang to it. The Gauda has a more subtle flavour and the emmental has a melt in your mouth quality to it. I do love the fact they are all low carb, and I think popped cheese is a really clever concept. They are all crunchy and hit the spot when you are after some nibbles.

Now you all know me – I’m honest. I do think these are great, if not a bit addictive. Do you know the best bit- you to can try them as well.

I’ve teamed up with Cheesies so one lucky winner can win and try the range for themselves ? How I hear you cry? It easy just click the link below. ( U.K. Residents only)

https://gleam.io/ky6AU/win-a-selection-of-cheesies-19

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with Cheesies. The product was gifted, my views are my own and completely honest.

My Favourite Christmas Products ( So Far)

Yes, yes, yes I know it’s only October, but I will not be apologising for the fact that I LOVE Christmas. I really do, and since having mini me I has become even more magical, but I can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with food allergies and intolerances, so I thought I’d share with you lovely lot my favourite products so far- gone on confess it you’ve bought some things to??

This year ( so far) I’ve been really excited by this panettone (£3) from Tesco. I can here coeliacs everywhere rejoice. I’ve tried it- for the sake of my followers, and it doesn’t disappoint, it really is lovely. My only downside is it’s quite small for the price, but hey it’s Christmas. Sainsbury’s are also doing a larger panettone for around £14 but I’ve yet to locate and try one. I’ll keep you posted.

Also from Tesco, and another gluten free find is this Black Forest wreath. At £5 it looks great and will feed a whole lot of guests with no effort. Sadly it does carry a nut warning though ( boo) so will probably not be on my Christmas table

My one last exciting find in Tesco is their Christmas pudding, mainly because it covers so many free from categories including nut and dairy free. As to what it tastes like, in all honesty I don’t know, it’s firmly on my to try list.

My other exciting find is this pretty dairy free chocolate box from M&S although at £8 it’s expensive. It also carries a nut warning despite Kinnerton making the chocolate- don’t worry we are keeping on at them to change it. However it would make a great gift or after dinner treat.

Other things to look out for is the gluten free and vegan mince pie and Christmas cake from Costa, and well as a very cute dairy free chocolate penguin from Asda.

Fear not I’ll update this post when I find things.

Nb- this is not a sponsored post. Just my honest opinion.

Shop Local- My Top 5 Local finds

Hello to you all, a bit of a different spin for my blogmas day 2 post.

I thought today I’d share with you my top five Local food and drink delights that are close to my home town of Stratford upon Avon. When I can I do try to support local businesses, I know they can cost a few more pennies ( sometimes) but the quality is often tons better and you are helping such things like a family business to make a living- every one’s a winner.

So who makes my top 5 ( in no particular order)?

1. Monsoon EstatesA family run business fronted by Anne and Chris who roast and sell the BEST coffee. This is an actual fact. My personal favourites are Papa New Guinea Enorga and the Monsoon Malabar. Both dark roasts with such smooth flavours that work well in lattes and cappuccinos and espresso shot as well. I really recommend you try a flavour.

2. Wilde Nuts Located in the heart of Stratford this company sells nuts, raw granolas and trial mixes and some gorgeous vegan fudge. All gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. ( I obviously have a stash at work, well away from mini me).

3. Paxston & whitefield – Cheese, cheese and more cheese. I know not strictly an independent as they were founded in London and have about 4-5 shops, but one of those is in the town, and has been for as long as I can remember. They also stock locally made cheeses. All are delicious- The Stilton and Shropshire Blue being my top picks. This is a must for my Christmas cheese board.

4. Weston On Avon Farm shop. This really is a hidden gem. All our veg that we don’t grow ourselves comes from here. A family farm selling out of a converted garage. Often the produce is picked fresh from the field. You can guess where my winter vegetables are coming from.

5. Shakespeare Distillery Another local business, the creators of the Stratford Gin and about 4 miles away from my home. G&T is one of my favourite tipples, and this is one of my Christmas drink staples.

So there you have my round up of my top 5 Local food and drink suppliers. Have you tried any of these products? If so let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. All views are my own.

Appy Kids Company Juice Review and Competition. 


See all this in the picture above? It could be yours but we will get to that later.

You may ( or may not) know that I have a munchkin, and I may have commented on the fact she loves Peppa pig and Paw Patrol once or twice.  I know I’m not on my own, most children go through a Peppa stage I think.

Anyway the lovely people over at Appy Kids Co contacted us asking if we would like to try these juices, not only that we have collaborated to offer you all the chance to try them to. If you hadn’t guessed already Appy Kids sell licensed character juice drinks, which are made with natural ingredients and in ranges such as Peppa, The Gruffalo, Minions and Paw Patrol.


We had the Orange Paw Patrol pouches and mixed berry Peppa cartons to try. They are all much lower in sugar, (see Here for typical ingredients list) suitable for most diets and contain added vitamins as well.  I was happy for LR to try these, I’m always conscious of sugar content, in terms of teeth health and diet but 3.75g per 100 MLS is around about what these drinks are, which is so much better than some on the market- it’s a win for mums, and kids alike.

So how to they taste? Im Pleased to say LR liked both, her favourite is Paw Patrol ( I suspect Chase on the front has something to do with it). Mind you she drank both and has gone back for more on different days. I take this as a positive- wild horses would not make her eat or drink something she doesn’t like. Her only criticism was that Rubble was missing from the front of the carton, but taste wise it’s all good. 

For research obviously I had a few sips to. Both are very tasty and refreshing. I like the fact they don’t leave that horrid artificial after taste in your mouth.  They don’t cause a sugar rush after either, so that alone is a thumb up from me. Perfect for the back to school lunch boxes.  ( yeah I know 5 wks- you’ve got this).

So how can you get your hands on this great prize of:

  • 3 x 5-pack of Paw Patrol Juice Drink Pouches
  • 3 x 3-pack of Peppa Pig Fruit Drink Cartons
  • 1 x Peppa Pig 9in1 Bumper Puzzle Pack by JUMBO GAMES

That is easy just follow the instructions in the box below ( just click the link) 

Winner will be drawn at random next week. Good luck to you all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Barley Cup Review and Recipe Ideas

What is this I hear you ask?  Well I was intrigued to, and therefore very excited when the lovelies at  Barleycup offered me some to try out. With Barley in the name I was a little skeptical to whether it was gluten free, but guess what ( and rejoice ) it is.     

  
In fact this is what Barley Cup say on their website about the products. 

Barleycup is a delicious range of instant gluten-free drinks made from roasted cereals and chicory root. All Barleycup beverages are gluten-free and have been certified by Coeliac UK. A special process is used to separate the gluten and the products are regularly tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that the gluten levels do not exceed 10mg/kg**.

 To start off I thought I’d try It as a drink, 2 teaspoons of Barleycup mixed with just off boiling water, and I added a splash of milk. The verdict is I liked it, the organic and original both taste like a very mild coffee, but without the caffeine. Probably my favourite was the barley cup with dandelion. There is the extra, slightly sweeter flavour that adds to the drink as a whole. Incidently all versions work wonderfully as a latte, and the even bigger news was that the product has not aggravated my coeliac disease what do ever. 

I’ve also been experimenting with recipes using Barleycup. Below is my first attempt at a ( sort of) gluten free, nut free and dairy free malt loaf. Now it’s been years since I’ve had soreen, I can’t really remember the taste but I do remember the ‘squidge’. I’ve got to play one more time to go for the squidge factor but the taste is amazing ( sorry slight blow of own trumpet ). I promise as soon as its perfected the recipe will be up on this post. 

  

Other ideas I’ve had are mocha type smoothie and chia seed pudding. I’ll keep you posted on how they go. 

So would I recommend Barleycup? You bet I would, it’s a gluten free, caffeine free drink that tastes delicious and is proving to be versatile in its uses as well. Thumbs up all round. 

  
Disclaimer: Barleycup sent me these products to try, all thoughts and ideas are entirely my own. 

Review Schar Viennese Biscuits ( Gluten Free) 

  
  

  I was walking through Morrisons the other day. They have had a rebrand of their free from range, and increased the number of lines in the ranges as well. Hooray I hear you all cry. Fro the record I’m really impressed with the gluten free curly fries at £1 but anyway I’ve digressed somehow. 

Whilst perusing the shelves I noticed these Viennese biscuits from Schar. I can vaguely remember in my BCD ( Before Coeliac Disease ) days that M&S did a Viennese Whirl that was amazing, so I was keen to try these to see if they sparked any memories. 

  
So the packet states a melt in the mouth biscuit- these don’t disappoint. They have a lovely vanilla taste, that does ( without sounding corny) melt in the mouth, tasting rather like a buttery shortbread  Incidently they fair ok in a dunk test as well.  That little gem of info is gorgeous those of you, who like me, are partial to the odd dunk in your brew. 

I did pimp them a little and created a proper Viennese sandwhich with strawberry jam and buttercream,  this really did the justice. My confession is that they were maybe eaten before any photos were taken- oops. I promise I’ll update the post later. 

My only down side is the May contain Lupin warning as little one, or indeed a few of those with peanut allergies,  can’t have them. In all other ways they are a lovely, tasty biscuit with a good crunch. Perfect for  those days when rice cakes just won’t cut the mustard. 

Have you tried these? Or any of the other new ranges from Schar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

  

Review- Gluten Free Toad in The Hole 

  Hello to you all, I hope the first week back wasn’t too difficult? All great this end I’m just hoping for snow at the end of the week. In my best Elsa voice I WANT to build a snowman. 

Anyway I was thinking its a new year, so a new review wouldn’t go amiss. Wondering through my local Morrisons the other day I spotted this gluten free Toad in the Hole in the frozen section. At £1.97 I thought I’d give it a go. 

  
 It’s easy to cook, from frozen and straight in the oven, great if you need  a dinner in a hurry. I have to say the portion size is very generous as well, my negatives is that it is high in fats so would only be a once in a while thing for me. I served mine with vegetables and onion gravy 

  
  This is a product of 2 halves. 1 that is really quite tasty, and the other that really is not. I enjoyed the sausages, they had a good hint of pepper for a warming kick and appeared to have a high meat content which gives a great texture. I also enjoyed the crispy Yorkshire that had risen round the sausages, it was light and airy with a good crunch. Sadly that’s where it ended. 

  

  My main moan is that the texture of the Yorkshire pudding under the sausages was very dense and stodgy, the taste was pleasant enough but I struggled with slab like pudding and gave up on it in the end. It’s a shame, and I realise that without gluten you struggle to get a good rise, but it is possible with a Yorkshire Isabel’s  is excellent and Tesco free from mix gets my thumbs up as well. 

  So my overall verdict, a mediocre meal that in fairness I won’t be buying again, but it is a handy freezer meal if you are in a rush and need  something to eat. 

Have you tried this, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below. 

Cuddle Fairy

Review- Tesco Free From Instant Rice Noodles

I’ve never been a pot noodle fan, but in fairness it’s been so long now I cannot remember what they taste like. ( I’m assuming I’m not missing much?)  so I was a bit skeptical when I noticed these new instant rice noodle pots in Tesco Free From range the other day, but I was in a rush and thought well why not?

  
  They seemed ok for the fat and sugar content, so not too bad for a quick lunch on the go. It’s easy to prepare-empty contents into pot, pour on water, put lid on and then leave for 4 minutes et voila. 

I was amazed, the cardboard like noodles had transformed into long ribbons of rice noodle, that in fairness looked quite appealing, in a lazy sort of way. 

My tip is give it a good stir, my first mouthful was horrid, it just tasted bland, but a good mix brings out the flavour. The curry isn’t like a cheap  curry sauce flavour either, there is spice, and heat. It’s warming and satisfying all in a mouthful. 

  
I have to say I’m impressed, and although I would not want to eat them all the time, as a quick and satisfying lunch option these pots are very good. It’s encouraging to find a savoury product in a free from range that covers other allergies to – these are also dairy free. So thumbs up Tesco, keep up the good work.